Christianity is the type of
Christianity which developed in
the areas of the former Western Roman Empire. Western Christianity
consists of the
Latin Rite of the
Catholic Church (in contrast to the
Eastern rites in communion with Rome) and a wide variety of Protestant
denominations. The name "Western Christianity" is applied in order to
distinguish these from Eastern Christianity.
With the expansion of European colonialism from the Early Modern era,
Christianity spread throughout the Americas, much of the
Philippines, Southern Africa, pockets of West Africa, and throughout
Australia and New Zealand. Thus, when used for historical periods
after the 16th century, the term "Western Christianity" does not refer
to a particular geographical area, but is rather used as a collective
term for the Catholic Church, the Protestant denominations, and the
other forms of
Christianity that trace their lineage to Western
Today, the geographical distinction between Western and Eastern
Christianity is not nearly as absolute as in Antiquity or the Middle
Ages, due to the spread of missionary activities, migrations, and
globalisation. The adjectives "Western Christianity" and "Eastern
Christianity" are typically used to refer to historical origins and
differences in liturgy, rather than present geographical locations.
2.1 Original sin
2.3 Date of Easter
3 Western denominations
4 See also
Title page of the Lutheran Swedish Gustav Vasa Bible, translated by
the Petri brothers, along with Laurentius Andreae.
Jesuit scholars in China. Top: Matteo Ricci, Adam Schaal and Ferdinand
Verbiest (1623–88); Bottom: Paul Siu (Xu Guangqi), Colao or Prime
Minister of State, and his granddaughter Candide Hiu
For most of its history the church in
Europe has been culturally
divided between the Latin-speaking west, whose centre was Rome, and
the Greek-speaking east, whose centre was Constantinople. Cultural
differences and political rivalry created tensions between the two
churches, leading to disagreement over doctrine and ecclesiology and
ultimately to schism.
Like Eastern Christianity, Western
Christianity traces its roots
directly to the apostles and other early preachers of the religion. In
Western Christianity's original area
Latin was the principal language.
Christian writers in
Latin had more influence there than those who
wrote in Greek, Syriac, or other Eastern languages. Though the first
Christians in the West used Greek (such as Clement of Rome), by the
Latin had superseded it even in the cosmopolitan city
of Rome, while there is evidence of a
Latin translation of the Bible
in the 2nd century (see also Vetus Latina) in southern Gaul and the
Roman province of Africa.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, distinctions appeared also in
organization, since the bishops in the West were not dependent on the
Constantinople and did not come under the influence of the
Caesaropapism in the Eastern Church. While the see of Constantinople
became dominant throughout the Emperor's lands, the West looked
exclusively to the see of Rome, which in the East was seen as that of
one of the five patriarchs of the Pentarchy, "the proposed government
Christendom by five patriarchal sees under the auspices
of a single universal empire. Formulated in the legislation of the
Justinian I (527–565), especially in his Novella 131, the
theory received formal ecclesiastical sanction at the Council in
Trullo (692), which ranked the five sees as Rome, Constantinople,
Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem."
Over the centuries, disagreements separated Western
the various forms of Eastern Christianity: first from East Syrian
Christianity after the Council of Ephesus (431), then from that of
Oriental Orthodoxy after the
Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon (451), and then from
Eastern Orthodoxy with the
East-West Schism of 1054. With the
last-named form of Eastern Christianity, reunion agreements were
signed at the
Second Council of Lyon
Second Council of Lyon and the Council of Florence, but
these proved ineffective.
The rise of
Protestantism led to major divisions within Western
Christianity, which still persist, and wars—for example, the
Anglo-Spanish War of 1585–1604 had religious as well as economic
In and after the Age of Discovery, Europeans spread Western
Christianity to the
New World and elsewhere. Roman Catholicism came to
Americas (especially South America), Africa, Asia,
the Pacific. Protestantism, including Anglicanism, came to North
America, Australia-Pacific and some African locales.
Today, the geographical distinction between Western and Eastern
Christianity is now much less absolute, due to the great migrations of
Europeans across the globe, as well as the work of missionaries
worldwide over the past five centuries.
Catholic St.Martin´s cathedral in
Spišské Podhradie (Slovakia).
Behind the cathedral there is the gothic Spiš Castle.
Thomas Aquinas was one of the great Western scholars of the
Although "original sin" can be taken to mean the sin that Adam
committed, it is usually understood as a consequence of the first sin,
the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin
or descent from Adam. With the exception of tendencies such as
Christianity is thought to hold this doctrine,
which was championed especially by Saint Augustine, who wrote: "The
deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin" (De
nupt. et concup., II, xxvi, 43).
See also: Filioque
Most Western Christians use a version of the Nicene
Creed that states
that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son", where the
original text as adopted by the First Council of
"proceeds from the Father" without the addition of either "and the
Son" or "alone". This Western version also has the additional phrase
"God from God" (in
Latin Deum de Deo), which was in the
adopted by the First Council of Nicaea, but which was dropped by the
First Council of Constantinople.
Date of Easter
Main article: Easter controversy
The date of Easter usually differs between Eastern and Western
Christianity, because the calculations are based on the Julian
Gregorian calendar respectively. However, before the
Council of Nicea various dates including Jewish Passover were
observed. Nicea "Romanized" the date for Easter and anathematized a
"Judaized" (i.e. Passover date for) Easter. The date of observance of
Easter has only differed in modern times since the promulgation of the
Gregorian calendar in 1582; and further, the Western Church did not
universally adopt the
Gregorian calendar at once, so that for some
time the dates of Easter differed as between the Eastern Church and
the Roman Catholic Church, but not necessarily as between the Eastern
Church and the Western Protestant churches. For example, the Church of
England continued to observe Easter on the same date as the Eastern
Church until 1753.
Even the dates of other Christian holidays differ between Eastern and
Christianity makes up close to 90% of Christians
worldwide with the
Catholic Church accounting for over half and
various Protestant denominations making up another 40%.
Hussite movements of 15th century
Bohemia preceded the main Protestant
uprising by 100 years and evolved into several small Protestant
churches, such as the Moravian Church.
Waldensians survived also, but
blended into the Reformed tradition.
Major branches and movements within Protestantism.
Holy Roman Empire
List of Christian denominations
Western Rite Orthodoxy
Eastern Orthodox – Catholic theological differences
Eastern Orthodox – Catholic ecclesiastical differences
Christianity in the Roman Empire". Khan Academy. Retrieved
^ "General Essay on Western Christianity", Overview Of World
Religions. Division of Religion and Philosophy, University of Cumbria.
© 1998/9 ELMAR Project. Accessed 1 April 2012.
^ The Oxford Dictionary of the
Christian Church (Oxford University
Press 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3), article "Latin"
^ Encyclopædia Britannica: Pentarchy
^ Harent, Stéphane. "Original Sin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol.
11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 7 June 2009.
Jesus in Christianity
Son of God
History of theology
Oriental Orthodox (Miaphysite)
Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East ("Nestorian")
Eastern Catholic Churches
Latter Day Saint movement